Representative Craig Horn has confirmed rumors that he is considering a run for the office of state superintendent, a position currently held by fellow Republican Mark Johnson.
In an interview with WRAL’s Kelly Hinchcliffe, Horn said he might run if Johnson decides not to stand for re-election.
Horn acknowledged that the fact he’s never been an educator might be a bit of a problem, but he downplayed the importance of a superintendent understanding how the work looks from the classroom side:
“I’m not a teacher. I’ve never been a teacher. But people pointed out, superintendents don’t teach, superintendents manage.”
Horn is absolutely wrong to claim that education experience is inconsequential to being an effective superintendent. However, he’s right that we need to consider his management experience.
As a legislator who was first elected when the GOP won a supermajority in North Carolina in 2010, Horn has been at the forefront of managing the ongoing devastating decline of public education in our state. For much of that time he’s chaired the House K-12 Education Committee.
These are just a few of the major changes that have occurred while Horn has been in office.
- Uncapping the number of charter schools allowed to operate in the state. We now have 200, and they are steadily draining resources from traditional public schools and increasing racial and economic segregation in our state.
- Creating a voucher program that uses public tax dollars every year to send children to unaccountable nonpublic schools which are legally allowed to discriminate based on religion and sexual identity. That program will have spent more than a billion dollars by 2027-28.
- Failing to pass a school bond to help districts deal with billions of dollars of capital needs that they can’t afford on their own.
- Slashing teacher assistant positions by more than 7,000 over the last decade. This move has crippled the ability of our elementary teachers to manage behaviors and differentiate instruction and negatively impacted academic outcomes.
- Proposing that our state’s poorest 4 year olds be given virtual Pre-K rather than working to identify and address obstacles to those families accessing actual Pre-K. That awful idea is specifically Horn’s baby.
- Passing a mandate that districts lower class sizes but not funding it.
- Cutting allotments for textbooks, technology, and school supplies.
- Stripping away retiree health benefits and pay supplements for graduate degrees, making it far harder to attract good educators to North Carolina.
- Passing budget after budget that drastically underfunds our state schools while voting for massive tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals. Then saying with zero shame, “I’m sorry we don’t have the money to do more.”
That’s just a handful of examples. And if Horn does decide to run, he will be held responsible for his votes on every single one of those changes and more.
The other interesting thing about Horn’s announcement is that it’s a clear expression of no confidence in our current superintendent, Mark Johnson. It appears that Horn would agree with my feeling that Johnson is doing a less than stellar job leading our state’s education system. The difference is that, in Horn’s case, it’s 100% buyer’s remorse.
It’s important to remember that Horn sponsored the bill just a month after Johnson won election which gave a man with precious little experience unprecedented power over our state’s education funds. Horn’s bill relegated our highly qualified, govern-by-consensus State Board of Education to the sidelines on nearly every meaningful decision related to education in North Carolina. That legislative change has come back to haunt us over and over and over again. Our Department of Public Instruction is a smoking ruin of what it once was, and educators in North Carolina are so disgusted with the whole mess that they’ve filled the streets of Raleigh the past two years to call for meaningful change.
Craig Horn did all of that. And now he thinks we might want him to be our superintendent?
Horn’s interview with Hinchcliffe includes the following “stick your toe in the water” statement:
“The idea of a statewide campaign is a scary thought, especially in these days of contentious politics. But if I sense that people believe in me, I would consider it.”
I think I can speak for the majority of educators in our state when I say…
We absolutely don’t believe in you. Please don’t consider it.
School is not a business, it is a public resource that everyone deserves access to. “Managers” who have never been in classrooms to see what the actual impact of diminishing budgets and reduced support systems do to teachers, staff and students have no business in education. North Carolina needs educators, not businessmen, period.